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On July 20, 2011, about 1815 eastern daylight time, an unregistered, experimental Polaris Polar Star flying boat incurred substantial damage when it crashed into the water near Dewees Island, South Carolina. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flying boat was owned and operated by the non-certificated pilot, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a local personal flight. The pilot and the passenger were killed. The flight originated earlier that day, at an unspecified time and location.
Witnesses to the accident gave statements to the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office representative. They stated that they observed the flying boat complete an aero-loop and started to perform another loop. When the flying boat was at the top of the loop, inverted, at an estimated altitude of 1,000 feet above the water, the wing folded. The flying boat dropped straight down into shallow water. Moments later sea vessels approached the wreckage to aid the two on board; one was trapped in the wreckage and the other was located floating in the water.
A review of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data base revealed the pilot did not hold a pilot certificate. The pilot required, at minimal, a sport pilot license to operate the flying boat.
The Polaris Polar Star is described as a two place, tandem design, weight-shift-control trike, of fabric and aluminum tubing construction, attached to an inflatable dingy boat, and power by a 64 horsepower Rotax, 582, engine. The flying boat’s specification required it to have a registration number issued by the FAA when operated.
The closest official weather observation was at Charleston Air Force Base /International Airport (CHS), Charleston, South Carolina, about 20 miles west of the accident site. The CHS 1756 METAR, was wind from 210 degrees at 11 knots gusting to 16 knots; visibility, 10 statute miles; few clouds at 2,500; temperature 35 degrees Celsius (C); dew point minus 21 degrees C; altimeter 29.84 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
Examination of the aircraft wreckage by an FAA Inspector showed no evidence of pre-accident malfunction. Examination of the wing showed it failed due to overstress.
MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION
The Medical University of South Carolina, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Charleston, South Carolina, conducted a postmortem examination of the pilot and passenger. The cause of death for both was blunt force trauma.
The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) conducted toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. The tests were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and drugs. The test were positive for 0.069 g/dL ethanol in blood, 0.074 g/dL ethanol in vitreous fluid, and 0.074 g/dL ethanol in urine.
TEST AND RESEARCH
FAR Section 91.17 (a) prohibits any person from acting or attempting to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft while having 0.040 g/dL (40.0 mg/dL) or more alcohol in the blood. Adverse clinical symptoms have been noted with blood ethanol levels as low as 20.0 mg/dL (0.020 g/dL.